Veterans’ Affairs Needs-Based Pension

Veterans’ Affairs Pension Eligibility

A Veterans’ Affairs (VA) pension is a monthly cash benefit that helps retired or disabled veterans. In order to qualify, you must be either over 65 or be totally and permanently disabled. Totally and permanently disabled means you have a non-service related injury or disease that is totally incapacitating and is likely to last your entire life. This means that your mind or body is so impaired that it is impossible for you to maintain employment. Additionally, you must have low income and little assets, and you must have served 90 days in the military, including one day of service during wartime.

Additional monetary supplements to the VA pension are available where a veteran is either Homebound or requires Aid and Attendance (A&A). The Homebound Benefit gives you additional cash income if you are mostly confined to your home due to your disabilities. The A&A Benefit provides additional income if you need assistance with at least some of your daily living, even if that assistance is provided by a family member. You can also receive A&A if you are blind or almost blind or live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. You can receive either Homebound Benefits or A&A, but not both.

VA Pension Benefits

The VA Pension benefit is a monthly cash benefit based on the veteran’s income and net worth. The monthly benefit is calculated by taking a maximum annual benefit and subtracting your household’s countable income. If the household does not have any countable income, then you are entitled to the full annual amount. The benefit also considers whether you have any eligible dependents and whether you need any aid or attendance in your daily living situation. If you received a Congressional Medal of Honor, you may receive a larger pension.

VA Disability Compensation

VA Disability Compensation provide a monthly tax-free cash benefit to veterans and eligible dependents. The amount of the benefit depends on the degree of your disability.

There are also additional disability benefits that apply in certain situations, such as:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation – if you die during active service or from a service-connected condition, your eligible dependents may receive a tax-free benefit;
  • Special Monthly Compensation – if you have certain serious service-related injuries like loss of an extremity, deafness or immobility of a joint, you may be entitled to extra compensation;
  • Aid & Attendance and Homebound Benefits – if you are in need of aid and attendance to complete your daily tasks or if you cannot leave your home or are in a nursing home, you may be entitled to these extra benefits;
  • Travel Reimbursement – if you have a service-connected disability rating you may be eligible for reimbursement for your travel expenses to medical appointments;
  • Clothing Allowance – you may qualify for a clothing allowance if you have a service-related disability that requires use of a prosthetic device or if medications from a service-related skin condition have damaged your clothing;
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment – if you have a disability rating of at least 30%, you may be eligible for employment training and an allowance;
  • Specially-Adapted Housing Grants – if you need to modify your home or build a new home due to your service-related disability, you may be eligible for a grant to do so; and
  • Automobile Allowance – if you need to purchase a vehicle or adapt your vehicle due to your service-connected disability such as loss of extremities or immobility of joints, you may be entitled to an allowance to do so.

Legal Editor: Kent Eiler, City Bar Justice Center

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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